I just wanted to point out the irony of my current situation: Cixous is championing the woman’s body, and I have one hand on the keyboard, typing out an agreement like “yeah, women’s bodies and freedom!”, but the other hand is clutching at my uterus, while I curse the fact that I was born a woman, like I do every month.  lol.

I thought it was interesting that Cixous ties writing and creativity to a woman’s body, specifically to her sexuality. She says that just as women are made to feel guilty about masturbation, and so they do it in secret, so too do women guiltily write in secret. We can apply this claim to Walker’s text, “In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens…”, because slaves were also neither in control of their bodies nor able to fully express their creativity. Because the slave women spent all day working in the fields (working for their masters and not for themselves, meaning they were not in full control of their bodies as methods of production), they never had time to “sit down, undisturbed, to unravel her own private thoughts” (Walker 238).

Yet Walker asserts that despite this, the creative spirit was still transmitted, through their offspring. Her own mother, who had no way to record her own creative spark, transmitted her stories to Walker herself. Walker “absorbed not only the stories themselves, but something of the manner in which she spoke….so much of what I have written is about characters whose counterparts in real life are so much older than I am” (Walker 240). Similarly, Walker’s example of her mother working in the garden shows that there does not need to be a tangible, clear method of recording like writing in order to be an artist. Simply “ordering the universe in the image of her personal conception of Beauty” is sufficient (Walker 241).

This is perhaps contrary to what Cixous is suggesting, which is a new history, written by women, in order to overthrow the current male-dominated paradigm. Cixous’s urgent calls to action suggest that what Walker mentions may not be enough; simply being an artist in daily life would not be enough to transmit the women’s movement. Walker, however, would say that there does not need to be a tangible, physical record for transmission, because the subsequent generations would absorb the stories and mannerisms of the previous mothers and generations.

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5 thoughts on “

  1. The relationship between body and production of cultural knowledge is really interesting. Is the production limited by the body or is it separate from it? The tie Cixous makes seems to imply that there is a connection between a woman’s body/physicality and the things she produces (having to overcome an obstacle) but Walker’s women produce art despite the physical strain they’re under. This all returns to Woolf’s idea of a room of one’s own and sufficient funds, which argues that if the physical body is busy doing other things, then it can’t produce anything. But as you noted, Walker disagrees with this.

    • That’s an interesting point. I think production could be limited by the the body insofar as the body is a vehicle for cultural knowledge production. In other words, if the body is limited, then so too is production.

      Also I think your username is really cute. =) I don’t know if it’s a reference to something, but “chocolate party” just makes me smile.

      • yeah, I also agree that production is limited by the body because of the difficulties that the body can face that prevent production or affects it–for example, the social obstacles that the gendered body faces (like how Cixous talks about women masturbating being similar to women writing in the sense that both are something women feel shameful doing)

  2. I think we should point out though, that no matter how many flaws there are in Cixous’ argument, her point that there needs to be an influx of female writings so as to secure female history and heritage is more powerful than Walker’s point that it is sufficient for women to create their own worlds with what they can, and is more compatible with Virginia Woolf’s demands.

  3. I think your comparison between Walker and Cixous is interesting in light of the public/private dichotomy. Walker’s ‘domestic art’ is more private, a trained (female?) eye can identify the beauty in it. Is this a desperate move or a cop out to find female art in history, or is she challenging us to look outside the canon/the ‘established’ art forms?

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